Lulea to Rovaniemi to Turku

Trip Start May 13, 2013
Trip End Jun 26, 2013

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Where I stayed
overnight train to Tampere

Flag of Finland  , Lapland,
Thursday, June 6, 2013

Our sleeper fare included breakfast - we had to go to the 'dining car' and choose what we wanted from the self-service cabinets. The lady in charge added it all up, and then said we had to put something back - I'm not sure how it worked, but we certainly got plenty to eat!  The train arrived in Boden at 8.08.  It stayed there for 10 minutes, and then part of the train went on to Narvik in the Arctic Circle in Norway, and part went on to Lulea. We arrived in Lulea about 8.49 and walked over to the Bus Station -  took 5 minutes max. There were quite a few of us - a mixture of locals and tourists.  Have I told you it was the Swedish National Day? (the boys on the train on 'schoolies' had warned us that Sweden shut down on their National Day.)

The office at the Bus Station wasn't open, so we looked at all the different signs at the different bus "terminals" - there were electronic timetables showing destinations and departure times. The buses were operating on the Sunday timetable because it was a Public Holiday (I believe), so we couldn't catch the 9.50 train - had to wait til 10.50.

While we waited, we chatted mainly to a chap from England who made TV documentaries - there were groups of travelers all over the place. It must've been coming up to 10.00 when I decided I ought to search out a loo - the bus trip was over 2 hours and I didn't want to count on it having toilets on board. Got as far as the bus station office - only to realise it was open! I didn't exactly yahoo across that great big area of tarmac - but I think they all must have guessed something by my demeanor! There was a rush on the cafe and the loos. That's where I got the bus timetable - from that office - so I've copied it and included both directions in my photos. It's really hard to get info about this crossing from Sweden to Finland! I read, on several sites, that the bus leaving Lulea was in time with the train's arrival. Not so.

The bus left promptly at 10.50. The Parade (National holiday parade) was taking place as we went through Haparanda - the part we saw was all the cars of 1950s early 60s vintage (I'll come back to this later in Stockholm). Didn't take a lot of notice - but I did see them! Not enough time to get a photo - the bus was avoiding the 'parade'.

The bus company from Lulea to Haparanda, which is free with Eurail, is Lanstrafiken in Norbotten; and the companies that do Haparanda-Tornio-Kemi are Veljekset Salmela and Net-matkat. We got off at Haparanda at 13.15 Swedish time (14.15 Finnish time) and our next bus arrived while we (we being a group of about 10) were still trying to read the timetable!  It went from Haparanda straight through to Kemi - via a lot of back streets - arriving at the station at 15.00.  So there is another travel story busted - I thought we had to walk across the border. Not so.

The train from Kemi to Rovaniemi left at 15.19 and arrived there at 16.44.  The train itself was very ordinary, the scenery was okay though. An hour and 40 minutes later than I expected to be there.  I still thought we had enough time to spend nearly 90 minutes at Santa Claus's Village and Park, but .....

The bus timetable out to Santa's Village had changed just a few days before. So we spent a long time standing at the bus stop. This bus stop was the ONLY place with the new timetable - the old timetable was on the wall at the railway station - and also on the wall of the bus when we finally got on. It was quite interesting driving through the town and then the country. Cost 7.20 Euros. The lady bus driver had a chat with her couple of local passengers and let us off at Santa Claus's place for about 3 minutes.  Very nice of them - apparently it's a regular passenger service (as opposed to tourist oriented), so thank you driver and passengers!

Rovaniemi is on the Arctic Circle and we arrived on the longest day of the year! Ha ha. At this latitude the sun rises for the last time on the 6th June and does not set until the 7th July.

Got back to Rovaniemi railway station about 18.45  - and had about 2 and a half hours to fill in before the overnight train to Tampere.  We needed to eat and hadn't spotted anything interesting from the bus, food wise - plus being a bit fed-up - so decided to eat at the restaurant at the station. I think we had pizza - and beers. But just when you're getting a bit bored - guess what? You meet someone and have a great conversation and the time just passes so quickly!  And that's what happened to us - met a young guy (mid to late 20s) who'd come to Rovaniemi for an interview at the university. We talked about all sorts of things - one was about housing as we'd noticed a variety of housing - and before we knew it, it was time to get out on the platform. The train, express 274,  left at 21.29 and we had a sleeper but not a private shower and toilet. We booked and paid for this in Australia - and we had to ring up to do it. I'd emailed Finnish rail and they wrote back and told me I couldn't do it via email. So after the phone call, I then had to spell out my email address ever so slowly so that they could email the tickets!! The sleeper compartment cost 60,58 Euro ($79.49 on my Visa card).

The express 274 went through to Helsinki, so we had to change at Tampere at 5.48. There was just a few minutes wait, then we were on the express 904 to Turku and then on to Turku Satama (the port). Just a short walk to the ferry.
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